Taking annual trips to Paris for the past 20 years, Baby and Company owners Jill and Wayne Donnelly have become expat experts on the city. “Every time I visit, I’m still discovering something new,” says Jill. Here, they share their most-loved local haunts to eat, dine, and people watch, as well as the city’s best insider shopping and sightseeing destinations.
First, our favorite neighborhood to stay in is the Marais (3rd and 4th arrondissement), so you’ll find most of our restaurant recommendations in and around the district.
The Used Book Cafe at Merci
111 Boulevard Beaumarchais
A wonderful room to have a light breakfast or grab a coffee with a friend or alone. They serve one of my favorite breakfast meals: soft-boiled eggs in cups with soldiers (toast for dipping).
19 Rue du Pont aux Choux
They make the best latte in Paris. The café itself is smaller than small, but charming and original.
Le Loir dans la Théiére
3 Rue des Rosiers
This funky, cool café on one of my favorite streets in the Marais (Rue ddes Rosiers) feels like it’s been around since the ’70s. Known for their mind-blowing dessert bar, it’s a perfect stop for an afternoon sweet bite and a coffee. Lunch is great as well.
Cinéma Café at Merci
111 Boulevard Beaumarchais
Modern, clean, healthy food in a casual setting. They have good vegan and vegetarian options, and it’s a delicious, unfussy way to break up your shopping at Merci.
Pontochoux: Japanese Curry Cantina
18 Rue du Pont aux Choux
A tiny little gem that you might have missed, had you not been sent there. If you love curry, this is your place: it boasts a small menu with big impact. There are great veggie options. Bonus: it’s across the street from our favorite Boot Café.
21 Rue le Peletier
It is getting easier to find healthy, vegetable-based restaurants in Paris. This is a sweet spot for lunch in a simple, pretty atmosphere.
93 Rue de Rivoli
Situated at the Louvre, this restaurant screams Paris chic. They have a fabulous patio in the warmer months, or interior tables overlooking the Louvre Galleries. Wear something nice and order a croque madame. You’ll thank us.
Café de Flore
172 Boulevard Saint-Germain
One of the oldest coffeehouses in Paris, lunch here is an absolute must. It is expensive, but worth the price for the people watching. Sit outside if the weather permits. Perched on St. Germain, it makes for a wonderful pageant of real Parisian street style.
107 Boulevard Richard Lenoir
It’s understandably difficult to get into this classic Italian trattoria. Get in line and add your name to the list. However, it’s worth it! The cozy atmosphere and the food will leave you stuffed.
30 Rue Debelleyme
A sister restaurant to Ober Mamma (above), this is a fantastic place to go if you’re particularly hungry. The pizza and pasta are off-the-hook yummy, and the atmosphere is like an adorable Italian grocery.
114 Rue Amelot
The Clown Bar is a playful, wonderful gem that lends a casual, but intimate environment. They have an interesting menu and great service. A fun favorite.
43 Rue Godefroy Cavaignac
A hip little find, this spot was introduced to me by my gal pal, Linda Derschang. We shared a wonderful meal with friends and it left me wanting to come back into the rustic-chic space.
1 Rue du Pont Louis-Philippe
Another restaurant that will remind you you’re eating in the most romantic city in the world. The place is elegant and charming; the lighting is perfection. Go for date night or book their lovely private room for a party.
Israeli Street Food
22 Rue des Ecouffes
This hip little hole in the wall’s energetic, engaging staff will make you feel like you’re at a party. It’s loud and fun and always serves up an interesting assortment of vegetables and falafels. Great vegan options.
52 Rue de Saintonge
A Mexican taqueria in Paris? Don’t miss the lively atmosphere at this award-winning cocktail bar that mixes up unexpected, refreshing flavors. The menu alone, more children’s book than basic list, is worth the visit.
289 Rue Saint-Denis
This classy Korean barbeque restaurant serves yummy cocktails using seasonal ingredients. Throw one back with some of their signature snacks.
239-241 Rue Saint Honoré
This bar is bougie in the best way! A perfect place to get dressed up and enjoy the room. The interiors are everything, as one of the best boutiques hotels in Paris (see below), the hotel lives up to its reputation with a divine atrium and lounge.
239-241 Rue Saint Honoré
If you can afford to stay here, you must (at the very least, stop by for a drink). This five-star boutique hotel is one of the most elegant properties in Paris with an intimate ambiance and cool, moody vibe.
29 Rue Jacob
The stately four-star boutique hotel has a clean, contemporary style with individually decorated rooms and an easy location just two blocks from the Siene.
Hôtel du Petit Moulin
29 Rue de Poitou
Designed by Christian Lacroix, this pint-size boutique hotel is a bit wacky in the best way—with modern décor and rich tones. It sits on a wonderful street in the heart of the Marais. J’adore.
Le Pavillon de la Reine
28 Place des Vosges
This airy boutique hotel on Place de Voges (the oldest planned square in Paris) offers ample opportunity to explore the surrounding neighborhood before relaxing in their cozy, stylish rooms.
We never have a ton of extra time, but we try to hit a few easy in-and-out museum options to get inspired. These museums can be experienced in one to two hours.
77 Rue de Varenne
A stunning concentration of the artist’s most notable works displayed are in the very house he lived in as an artist in residence from 1908 until his death in 1917. The grounds are also beautiful.
5 Rue de Thorigny
After a five-year renovation, the Paris museum will satiate your appetite for the famed artist’s extensive span of work.
Musée de l'Orangerie
Situated in the Tuileries Gardens, it’s a wonderful stop to calm the mind. Home of the amazing Water Lilies (Les Nymphéas) by Claude Monet, the rounded rooms and large panels creates a state of visual Zen.
Foundation Louis Vuitton
8 Avenue du Mahatma Gandhi
The building itself is worth the visit to see the rotating art and culture exhibits inside. Try to hit it on a sunny day, and plan to linger in the outdoor spaces. Impressive all around.
Palais de Tokyo
13 Avenue du Président Wilson
The architecture, terraces, views, and location make for a pleasant visit. The rotating exhibits feature top modern artists from around the world.
Best stores for interior ogling: These boutiques and retail legends have inspired interiors to be admired.
175 Boulevard Saint-Germain
This is one of my favorite stores for its interior design. It merges bookstore with high-end boutique. If you find yourself on the Boulevard St. Germaine (which you should) it’s more than worth a look.
Dries van Noten: Women
7 Quai Malaquais
Set along the Seine River’s Left Bank, this jewel of a store is everything good from the famed Belgian designer. One of my all-time favorite boutiques, you’ll wish you could be locked inside for the night.
Dries van Noten: Men
9 Quai Malaquais
Across the street from the Dries women’s store, the men’s offerings and atmosphere are equally amazing
Le Bon Marché
24 Rue de Sèvres
This is the best specialty store in Paris. With a recent renovation, the iconic beauty presents the finest curation and edit of the best designers in the world. The food court will leave you dizzy with its incredible assortment of fine foods. Leave yourself time to explore the whole store. They often have installations and specialty cafes. Seriously, it is a fashion temple.
10 rue Hérold
If and when you find this hidden treasure, you will feel like you’ve been let in on a wonderful secret. There is no storefront, just a door where you’ll need to press a button to get in. There are three boutiques in the L’Eclaireur fleet, however, this one is my personal favorite.
Hermes, La Maison
17 rue de Sèvres
Set in a 1930s-municipal swimming pool, this boutique was built to showcase Hermés furniture and home design. Be prepared to lose your breath when you walk inside.
23 rue Vieille du Temple
Hail the Japanese denim gods! This store has a cult following and both Wayne and I are in it. The pureness of the design and attention to detail always leaves us wishing we had a blank check to spend.
111 Boulevard Beaumarchais
Hands down my favorite place to pass the time. I shop here more than any another store in Paris. They sell everything from pencils, reading glasses, and perfume to light bulbs and vintage wares. I love it all! Plus, a percentage of every purchase goes to charity. This is a full-experience concept store that houses restaurants, cafes, housewares, and fashion. The displays are always happy, clever, and surprising. Leave yourself lots of time to eat, have coffee, and shop! I dare you not to buy something. Bonus: You’ll get some great Instagram shots.
Places to Wander
Most stores in Paris are closed on Sunday, however, the Marais district stays open. It’s a perfect day to wander. Start with brunch at BigLove. Have a drink or coffee at Café Charlot on Rue Bretagne with prime people watching. Eat falafel on Rue du Rosiers (one of my favorite streets). Have a glass of wine in the afternoon at the Café Philosopher on Vielle du Temple. And shop the stores on Franc Bourgeois, which cuts right up the heart of the Marais. I promise you, it will be a great day.
Jardin du Palais Royal Palais Royale
This is a fantastic prize that sits across the road from the Louvre. The gardens are impressive and a great place to spend a sunny afternoon. Stroll the covered walkways that surround the park and shop or dine. Rick Owens, Didier Ludot (best couture vintage in Paris), Stella McCartney, and Epice all make their homes on the grounds of this Palais gem.
I always feel like I’m in a Woody Allen film in Montmartre. You can sense the history of all those who made this district a favorite of some of the finest artists of the 19th and 20th centuries. Definitely sit at a cafe, have something very French, and imagine the conversations that took place in so many of the area’s famed watering holes.
Enjoy seeing Paris through the eyes of Baby!